In the design of the Firesky Houses, the design of the heating and cooling system is vital. Floor Plans are designed to work within a heating and cooling “zoning” concept. By zoning the house, a more individualized heating and cooling solution can be achieved. The flexibility of the ductless mini-split heat pump system allows the house to operate for a single resident, or for a larger family.
Components of a Heat Pump System
The ductless mini-split heat system consists of a compressor on the exterior and a wall mounted blower on the interior. The two units are connected through refrigerant lines. A singular heat pump system can provide heating and cooling for up to four (4) interior zones.
The heat pump system can serve a home where individual space control, and/or where the existing duct system is inefficient and not operational. A forced air heat pump system can be installed in a renovation project where the existing ducts remain intact.
How a Heat Pump System Works
Heat pumps are designed to heat and cool the home in a different manner than a forced air system.
In the winter months, heat pumps pull warmth from the outside air into the home. The process is reversed in the summer months when the heat from the inside of the home is exhausted to the exterior. This reversal of process during the year provides an efficient solution to the heating and cooling of the home.
Efficiency of a heat pump system is measured through two different methods. First, a HSPF (Heating Season Performance Factor (HSPF) is applied. The HSPF rates the heating efficiency of the heat pump system. Second, a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) is applied. The SEER rates the cooling efficiency of the system.
For a heat pump system, the minimum ratings are HSPF 8.2 and SEER 14. With an ENERGY STAR rating, a heat pump system rating is significantly more efficient than the necessary minimum standard.
Advantages of a Heat Pump System
The advantages of the heat pump system is based upon three (3) factors:
- Cost Savings: An efficient heat pump system can save up to 75% of costs associated with heating the home. In addition, cost savings can be seen in the cooling of the house.
- Zoning: A ductless mini-split system can provide cooling and heating for up to four (4) zones. By placing a wall mount interior blower in each room, they can all be zoned separately by individual remotes. For example, should you want the bedroom heated at night, that specific zone can be provided heat, while the other zones are turned off. With each space zoned, and provided a wall mount blower, control of the interior units is by a remote thermostat.
- Safety: Heat pumps have no interior burning of fuels and the exhausting of dangerous fumes. In other words, the possibly of carbon monoxide is eliminated.
- Architectural Design: Because there is no ductwork with the mini-split system, interior spaces can be vaulted, thus allowing for more dramatic design alternatives.
Integration into the Firesky House
The Firesky house brings together a congruence of heating and cooling alternatives. Each house is designed for the ductless mini-split system and accentuated with a wood burning stove. In addition, passive solar control and thermal storage is provided.
Disadvantages of a Heat Pump System
There are three (3) identified disadvantages to a heat pump system. They are as follows:
- Upfront Costs: Typically, a heat pump heating and cooling has higher upfront costs.
- Maintenance: The heat pump system requires routine maintenance work. In comparison to a forced air system, the heat pump system needs to cleaned and verified before each heating and cooling season.
- Aesthetics: Where as a forced air system is only visible through metal grills in the walls, floors, and/or ceilings, the ductless mini-split system has a visible wall mounted interior unit
Costs Associated with a Heat Pump
For a ductless mini-split heat pump system a budgetary cost for the exterior, interior and electrical work is $25.00 per Square Foot. A 12,000 BTU unit, serving a 120 Square Foot space, would cost about $3000.00.
Additional costs associated with a system are:
- Dedicated Electrical Services – $250.00
- Exterior Concrete Pad – $250.00